Slow Shrews

By , May 26, 2011

Normally, as we roam about the homestead and the surrounding forest, we often see brief flashes of movement, small gray streaks along the ground barely glimpsed before vanishing. When we see this, we know we’ve just seen a shrew.

Lately, though, we’ve been able to examine these smallest of mammals almost at leisure, as they’ve suddenly started moving more slowly.

The other day I walked past the garden, and saw a quarter-sized shrew wandering around near the garden. It didn’t seem aware of me, so I stepped closer, and eventually stooped down to look at it. It continued to work its way toward me until it stood within a foot of my boot, its long little snout quivering as it looked about. In a moment, it ran for cover—quickly by most standards, yet amazingly slow for a shrew—and disappeared.

Soon after, at dinner, we watched through the window as another shrew wandered around the rhubarb patch.

I don’t know what’s going. We really don’t know much about shrews, so their behavior continually surprises us. These we’ve seen lately appear to be the dusky shrew, as the local masked shrew is apparently much larger, about the size of a small mouse. My guess is that these are youngsters out on their own for the first time, a little naive, a little invincible. Soon enough, they’ll likely learn to pick up the pace a bit.

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